Iraq and Saddam Part III

By | December 19, 2021

Here’s the thing: Saddam (unfortunately) is a serious person. And this explains, or would explain, many things. In its majority the population hated it, if only because – let’s say starting with the unfortunate invasion of Kuwait – it was tired of suffering deprivation and renunciation, of seeing children die for lack of basic medicines, simple baby food in hospitals. He no longer tolerated the arrogance of the hierarchs, the daily excesses of the Tyrant’s two sons. But that’s not why people were all waiting for the Liberation. Clever propaganda had managed to get the Iraqis in mind that the embargo was the cause and reason for all affliction, and that alone. The oil for food program, which allowed Saddam to sell a predetermined quota of crude oil using the dollar gain for the benefit of the people, was always disregarded, favoring the members of the one party, the family members of the soldiers to the detriment of the poor little people. “It is the capitalist, reactionary, neo-colonialist West that is the one and only responsible for so much disaster”: so obsessively it repeated the regime’s propaganda starting from the ominous expedition to Kuwait, up to the other day, in fact. There was some truth in this propaganda. I will try to explain myself. That Saddam was a tyrant is undisputed. But that, albeit crudely, he gave his people a welfare state it is equally true. That the single party, the Ba’th, was a mafia is a fact, but that it gave food – directly or indirectly – to at least one and a half million people with an ‘induced’ that doubled this figure, is in reality. Certainly, given the oil rent, Iraq could have counted on a per capita income of at least $ 10,000 a year. The military expenses, the robberies, the embargo following the defeat of March 1991, the previous interminable bill of exchange ignited in 1980 with the sudden war against Iran, fought in the name of a (presumed) secularism, with the approval (and the aid) of Washington, the difficulty of keeping intact the clan balance on which the relative stability of the regime was based, all this and more prohibited Saddam from sharing the oil pie with the breadth, say, of a Gaddafi. The miserable life suffered by the Iraqis since March 1991, paradoxically, instead of penalizing the regime, namely Saddam, has fueled a dark, tenacious hatred of the neocolonialist, rapacious and lying West. For Iraq 2004, please check

There has been (and probably still exists) a collective mental split in Iraq plagued by the 1991 defeat. ‘and, therefore, an enemy of the Great Arab Nation. The instinctive need for freedom, the demand for a more decent standard of living converge in that proudly angry, even blind, Nationalism that André Malraux called the “seething soup”. Now that with their rapid entry (or invasion) into Iraq the Americans have removed the lid from the seething red-hot pot of current sentiment, anger, disappointment, frustration and so on and so forth, moods and feelings, I mean. The demolition of the giant statue of Saddam is emblematic: it was the GIs of the military genius who did everything, in front of less than four hundred Iraqis. The ceremony was broadcast worldwide and maybe someone thought of attending a replica of July 25 in Mesopotamian sauce, humuss or tehina. Instead, by knocking down that statue like that, the Americans (paradoxically) restored dignity to the Tyrant. While hating it, Iraqis have suffered from having been expropriated, by the ‘colonial foreigner’, of their sacrosanct right: that of feeling masters in their own home and therefore of deciding on their own actions.

Pernicious mistakes

Confiscation of ideological freedom: this is the first mistake made by the Americans. If the experts on Middle Eastern problems of the Oval Room had bothered, I am not saying to study a little history but at least to have the film Lawrence of Arabia screened, perhaps some mistakes would not have been made. The Ba’th was a mafia and it was sacrosanct to dissolve it (as was done with Fascism) ma est modus in rebus, while the Americans, as usual, did as the famous elephant in the equally famous crystal shop: all destroyed, all chased away. With the result of throwing the rascals and the members of the ‘PNF party’ on the pavement (for family needs), as it was said in Italy at the time of the Duce.

Another pernicious mistake, the ‘all home’ intimated to the soldiers, in short, the dissolution of the Armed Forces. With the result of creating an immense Brancaleone army, equipped with machine guns and resentment. A time bomb.

But, perhaps, the heaviest mistake and which they will have (we will have to) pay for for a long time was that of having neglected the R factor, the religious factor. It is not unlikely that many, if not all, in the Oval Room truly believed that Iraq was a secular-secular country. If they had bothered to leaf through any tourist guide in the Library of Congress, the heads of the American administration would have, perhaps, finally understood how in Islam (that is, in that immense assembly of men, ideas, facts and thoughts that we call tout court islam) does not apply the famous “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, give to God what belongs to God”. There is no separation between religion and daily practice: Islam is a total (perhaps imperfect, I don’t know, but tenacious) fusion of social, religious, national, political. Everyone believes, even those who do not believe: this is how an apophthategma attributed to that mild elementary teacher of Ismailia, Hassan al Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood, the true ‘water head’ of the Islamist ‘-isms’ gradually flourished in the world, says. starting from 1929. Everyone believes, even those who believe they do not believe. Let’s take Saddam’s case. In 1991 he goes to the mosque and the TV shows him to the people in prayer, humble among the humble faithful.

Iraq and Saddam